TAMPA — Incoming Steinbrenner High School freshman Erin Fesler has won the Republican National Convention's "Elephants on Parade" art competition and will have her oil-on-canvas painting displayed at the Tampa Bay Times Forum during the convention.
The competition was open to middle and high school students throughout the Tampa Bay area. Participants were asked to submit a project that answered the question: "What does being an American mean to me?"
Fesler, 14, is the daughter of Tom and Kim Fesler of Lutz. She told contest organizers that she's interested in politics and that each element of her painting — titled Perseverance, Innovation, Sacrifice, Liberty, Unity and Strength — incorporates a unique facet of the country's identity. The work includes images of a bald eagle, a Native American in feathered head-dress, the Statue of Liberty, the space shuttle, the United States Capitol building, an American flag and Arlington National Cemetery.
Fesler has been painting since the fifth grade but has more seriously developed her talents in the last couple of years, Kim Fesler said.
"I am taking an American government class, and it's teaching me a lot about the political system and how it all works," Erin Fesler said in a statement released through the convention. The RNC, she added, "is just amazing. It's such an honor to be here. It just furthers my understanding of everything I am learning."
Along with four other finalists, Fesler will have the opportunity to tour the Times Forum and the Tampa Convention Center.